Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Saying Goodbye to July!

Tomorrow brings Taxol treatment #2. My friend Tracy, a former Medco now J&J employee will be my "chemo companion". It will be good to see her and spend some time with her!

I have had a good week thus far: Sunday morning I was able to meet my friend Chris at Starbucks and catch up in person and ended the night with the Boss: a great way to kick-off the week! Felt good enough to go into the office Mon, Tuesday and today; Had dinner At the PQ diner Monday night courtesy of Denise (THANKS!), Tues. night tried to see Mamma Mia with my mom but it was sold out, however we did get to have pizza and Dairy Queen (vanilla soft serve is one sweet thing I can tolerate; no cone though...) I was able to walk with Amy in the morning today and this evening was treated to a delicious dinner compliments of Corrine Brewer, my sister-in-law's mom.. (THANK YOU - the blueberry/rhubarb cobbler was perfect - not too sweet!); and I also learned this week that my "sister" Patrice will be flying in from Missouri to do the Komen walk with me on 9/14 - how cool is that? I have know Patrice for many years; we met while each working at our respective BCBS plans. During that time we were often mistaken for sisters or as each other! I am thrilled she will be visiting us!

I am hoping to find out tomorrow what I might take to alleviate my bone aches as well to begin the discussion around my radiation treatments, as in where and for how long. I am still sporting my Lex Luthor look and suffering the metallic taste in my mouth but so thankful not to have the constant internal discomfort I dealt with the last drug mix!

Based on my comments above, I am guessing I won't have to worry that I have lost any weight this week! I also am hopeful that my iron count stays where it was last week or if it moves, goes up! Number 2 for Taxol here I come, then only 10 more to go!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Phase 2 - Taxol

Well I have started phase 2 of my chemo treatment. On 7/24 my friend David accompanied me for my 1st round of Taxol. David was a trooper as I warned him of the possibility my iron would be too low and I would require a transfusion or I might have an allergic reaction to the Taxol that would cause me to have difficulty breathing.. and still he drove from NYC to pick me up, drove me back to the city for treatment and returned me back to NJ - as I have said, my friends are a pretty amazing bunch! My brother stayed at my house Thursday night since Greg was in San Diego for Comicon 2008. He (Greg, not my brother!) brought me home a great Amanda Connor Supergirl print - THANK YOU Amanda! You rock! I really wanted to go this year with all the DK hype but will wait until 2009. Besides - 2009 will be the year of the Rat...

The treatment itself was a non-event but by Friday afternoon I was definitely feeling it. Very different from my A/C cocktail, I felt an overall ache in my bones - I mean even my teeth hurt! No nausea thankfully but that weird metallic taste did come back. My achiness lasted until Sunday when I awoke feeling quite normal. Greg and I enjoyed a quintessential Jersey summer event Sunday evening at Giants stadium; we took in the 1st of 3 Springsteen concerts. After hearing "Janey don't you lose heart" I knew it was time to call it a night even though the Boss rocked on until midnight. Yes, there are times when I am 100% Jersey girl!

Back at work today and felt okay. Chemo is weekly now so return to the city Thursday so not looking forward to the return of the "aches" but will inquire as to what, if anything I might take to relieve the pain. This will be treatment #2 of 12 - the end is finally in sight! In fact, Greg had suggested I look at my treatment like running a marathon since I have done two of those. So when I did the math I figure I am past the 10K mark...I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and soon I'll be at that glorious finish line!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bald is Beautiful!

It has been a while since my last post due to my escape to Cape Cod. Greg and I spent five wonderful days with my Dad and Linda. We walked the beach every day, floated in their new pool to cool down from the heat, shopped in P-Town, visited Dad and Linda's oyster beds, ate wonderful meals and spent time with my brothers as well. Of course we also caught the latest Batman film - which was excellent, a must see!

The highlight of our stay was the Saturday evening festivities at the house. My Uncle Frank and Aunt Debbie came down from NH along with their daughter Kristen and her new husband Andrew. Grandma Marty was there with her grandson Andy too. We had a great time eating pond side in my Dad's backyard and listening/dancing to Abba.(Who needs Mamma Mia!) After dessert and a swim for the boys it was head shaving party #2! All my brothers, my Dad, my uncle, and both Andy's joined in as Greg acted as barber. I removed my wig for photos - with so many good looking bald heads, who needs hair? (You can click on the photos for a close-up!) I have to say - you guys sure know how to make a girl feel loved! A big thank you to all!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Komen NYC Race for the Cure 9-14-08

Yes, this is a solicitation... but I am committed to the cause more now than ever!!! Please consider joining me or supporting me for this year’s Komen 5K in NYC. As you all know, this race has taken on heightened significance in my life as I am now a part of those who benefit from the research funded by its proceeds.

I’ll be walking with Team Medco – you can walk with us even if you do not work here!

The race will be held in Central Park on Sunday September 14th at 9:00AM. Traditionally we meet at a Starbucks on the Upper West Side - details to follow.

You can register online at by clicking on “Join a Race Team.” Please enter Medco as the team name and then follow the instructions. You must register online by September 1st. I'll get your race bib and t-shirt prior to race day. If you register after September 1st, you can still join Team Medco but will need to pick-up your t-shirt and bib the day before the race or on race day on your own.

If you do not care to walk but still would like to support the cause, go to site above, select find a walker and enter my name.

Many thanks to all of you for your continued support – who knows, maybe I’ll even have hair again by 9/14…..

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Our Many Thanks

It is another beautiful Sunday morning and I am just starting to feel, oh, not so good. But- I have taken my anti-nausea meds and plan on getting outside to enjoy some of this day!

I just had to take a moment to write once again about how incredibly thankful I am for my friends and family. Both Greg and I are so appreciative of everything that everyone has done for us. From being my partner at chemo treatments; walking when I cannot run; to providing incredibly delicious and nutritious meals as well as all the notes, e-mails, cards and calls - all I can say is THANK YOU! You all are helping me through this journey more than you can know!

We anxiously await Thursday when we visit the canine oncologist but Tacoma is doing great, eating and sleeping just like usual. We will keep you posted!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

No More Red Devil!

Treatment number four is over - no more Adrimycin (this is the red devil - it really is bright red!)/Cytoxin cocktails - WOO HOO!!!! I now move onto Taxol starting 7/24. So one phase of chemo is done, over, complete.

My friend Lauren accompanied me today and kept the discussion so lively that time just flew by. It was great to have her there and hear of her upcoming wedding plans (she is gettign married 10/4 - a great day to be married on!) and new home - such positive things; her happiness is infectious!

We met a woman who was there also being infused. She was totally bald and was sporting an incredible tattoo on the back of her head so of course I had to inquire - it was henna. (Chemo heads are sensitive heads!) She said "she got tired of people asking her if she was sick" so figured the tattoo might make being bald look intentional. I loved it! You will notice in photo above I am sporting my wig. I'll do the big reveal once I am sporting a totally shiny dome; this patchy stuff is none too attractive! So I am thinking that bat symbol henna tattoo might be cool.... sport it opening night next week.. ..yes, I know - Deep down I am just a comic book loving geek!

This woman then went on to tell us that her husband of 12 years could not handle what was happening to her and left her two months ago at which point she broke down. I said she needed a hug but I was all hooked up so Lauren gave her one. Lauren then made her laugh by mentioning "we are from Jersey, give me his address; I know people". All in all it made me realize how good I really have it! I have a great support network! My family is nearby; I have friends who continue to impress me with their cooking prowess as they provide me with the so appreciated gift of home-cooked meals; and I have a husband who has said more than once he will stand by me through this no matter what - in fact he says, "We will get through this".

On a bad note, my iron levels fell again putting me in a critical phase. So, I get to one again use Medco's specialty pharmacy and will receive (if my prior auth goes through) Aranesp to help increase my red blood cell count. My nurse Beth cautioned me about running too fast as one effect my low levels could have would be to make me pass out... lovely!

I hate closing with bad news but yesterday we received Tacoma's tumor results. Our poor pup has a very aggressive form of cancer so we are taking her to the canine oncologist next week. Please continue to keep her in your prayers!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

I have to say my post heading is so true; we had a great day yesterday that helped both us forget our worries. Finally confident we could leave Tacoma for a few hours, we had lunch with my mom, John and my grandfather and then headed up to see our friends Dean and Amy along with their daughters Sydney and Sarah. They recently put in a beautiful pool, patio and outdoor kitchen. We enjoyed the afternoon just lounging until Dean and Greg thought it would be a good idea to try out the water "see-saw"... after many failed attempts they finally were able to balance - for about 5 seconds! I laughed so hard I cried! You can judge for yourself based on attached photos!!!

In fact we laughed a lot, their daughters were very entertaining and the meal we had was wonderful; it was an afternoon Greg and I truly needed and extend a hearty "THANK YOU" to the Haggerty family!

So, we survived the weekend! Tacoma had her drains removed today and vet said she is doing just fine. Hooray! She is acting like herself again. What a crazy couple of days!

I am also feeling good; even going running with my brother this evening. I dare say on the days when I feel good, it almost like I am taking speed I feel so good (based on what I have heard of course!), I even enjoyed going in to the office today sporting my wig. Yes, the time has come - I'll post pictures soon!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day, 2008

I awoke to the sound of rain pattering against my bedroom windows. I looked across the bed to see I was alone. When I arose and wandered out into the living room I found Greg lying on the floor next to Tacoma, this is where he had spent the night.

Tacoma appeared a bit better, she was wagging her tail and ate some food - even went outside. Greg was a bit worse off having not slept very much as he watched over her. As the day progressed we were the recipients of several gifts for which we a very grateful: my aunt Lorna gave us carte blanche for items from Trader Joe's which my cousin Kristen then delivered (Yes - SHE IS DRIVING!!!) and my mom brought over homemade chocolate chip cookies for Greg which made him very happy! She also brought Tacoma some snacks. Tacoma wagged her tail for my mom and while she did not move from her spot on the bathroom tile, she did eat three of the "filet mignons" my mom offered her. Our neighbors Hank and Jessica brought over some ice cream for Tacoma. Yes folks, they make ice cream for dogs and Tacoma enjoyed every bit of it. Greg and I laughed in relief as she gobbled it down - our dog appeared to be on the road to recovery! We go back to vet tomorrow at 8:30am to have her examined.

Our neighbors returned a bit later with a pitcher of "lemonade" - "adult style" they said and filled with fresh fruit. I think I may even have a glass as it has been that kind of week! Thank you to all who have been checking in with us - we really, truly appreciate it; I'll keep you posted about Tacoma. Me, I am on the upswing; getting ready for my last round of my Adrimycin/Cytoxin cocktail on 7/10. BRING ON THE TAXOL!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

It Just Hurts

Tacoma had surgery today to remove her tumor. Initially we had thought the cancer had not spread as our vet did a chest x-ray and her lungs were clear. However upon doing the actual tumor removal they found two others which they removed. Our beautiful Malamute now has two major incisions and two drains. She is on pain meds and antibiotics. She is laying on the cool kitchen floor whining softly and will not move. It hurts, girl, I know.

It hurts to see her lay there like that. It hurts to watch Greg lay next to her going out of his mind because he cannot take away her pain. It hurts since I know he has already had to do this with me.

I am thankful for our neighbor Hank who graciously ran over when asked to help Greg lift Tacoma from the car. I am thankful for our friends and my family who have all reached out to inquire how all three of us are doing, send a prayer, offer a kind word and help if needed. (Special shout out to Greg's Aunt Jane - she knows why.) I am thankful we have a three day weekend during which we can do what we can to help our dog heal, even if it is only sneaking her pills in the left-over lasagna Greg had for lunch...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Surgery Tomorrow

We heard from our vet today and yes, Tacoma's tumor is malignant. It needs to come out NOW so Greg will be bringing her in at 7:30am tomorrow morning. Our vet, Dr. Sova, will first do x-rays to determine if the cancer has spread anywhere else. They will then remove the tumor. It is a same day procedure so we should have some new by the evening. My head hurts from questioning everything today!

Me, the early half of the day was a bit rough, taking my compazine and trying to "get normal". Tomorrow will be one week since last round so I hope I feel much better! Many thanks to Christine's folks the Brewers for tonight's wonderful dinner!

Things We Can Learn From A Dog

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.
Allow the experience of fresh air &
the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.
Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
Take naps & stretch before rising.
Run, romp & play daily.
Eat with gusto & enthusiasm.
Be Loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent,
sit close by & nuzzle them gently.
Thrive on attention & let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On hot days, drink lots of water & lay under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around & wag your entire body.
No matter how often you're scolded,
don't buy into the guilt thing & pout...
run right back & make friends.
Bond with your pack.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

-Author Unknown

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Bargaining

I could tell it was going to be one of "those" days when I awoke Monday morning to find myself trying to negotiate with God. "Okay - just give me one good hour this morning without feeling this chemical reaction going off inside my body and I swear I'll never eat anything with palm oil in it again... or "If I can just get through the afternoon without falling asleep at my desk I promise to be in bed before 9 every night, even when this is all over" Yes, it was to be "one of those days".

I had company all day, our Alaskan Malamute, Tacoma (pictured here) lay in the office as I worked. She has not been feeling well either. Greg was able to snag a coveted noon appointment and I talked to myself at loud as I drove her there to keep it together: "You can do this, it is just for a few minutes, you can sit down at the vet's office, she will be fine". Tacoma has been drinking a lot of water lately and having issues holding it until she outside. Our vet did a urinalysis and her sugar is fine so no diabetes. Whew! He then did bloodwork to test for kidney disease and for Cushing's Syndrome - we should hear something today. Greg had asked me to have the vet look at a lump on her stomach while there so our ever patient pup obediently rolled over for the exam. Dr. Sova found two lumps. He shaved her fur and showed me what he found. One lump high on her chest bone appears to be a fatty lipoma - common in older dogs (Tacoma will be 13 on Halloween this year!). The other was located near her nipple, was bruised looking and scabby - NOT GOOD. Dr. Sova pointed to the lump and said "..this could be a mammary tumor, like breast cancer". My heart sank and my mouth opened before I could think about what I was saying: "WE CAN"T BOTH HAVE BREAST CANCER!!!" Dr. Sova and his nurses didn't know what to say or do - me, I just held on to Tacoma as they took a biopsy and wondered how the heck I was going to call my husband and tell him that the other woman in his life may also be sick. I mean this had to be some big cosmic joke, right? Who knew dogs could even get breast cancer???!!! So now we wait for the results, holding our breath and hoping for the best.

My afternoon did not improve. We needed a plumber as our cold water pipe in the kitchen cracked. He arrived timely (I just keep handing out the benjamins...)and proceeded to fix our sink. Me, I had a two hour conference call. I paid no heed to when he said he was turning off our main water supply. Sure, until I panicked and realized I had no water in the house, I was feeling bad and really needed something to drink. My wonderful sister-in-law was the recipient of one of my breakdown messages (My apologies Christine!) but I then e-mailed John who helped me track down my mom who, as always, came to my rescue!

So I awoke today praying for a better day. I feel about the same but the sun is out; I am throwing positive energy on the dog and I have plenty of water. I will make it through this day!!!